Guido State of Mind: Why LeBron James Will Join the Nets Over the Knicks

Ashwath KrishnaContributor IApril 2, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 03:  Devin Harris #34 of the New Jersey Nets goes to the hoop against LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Izod Center on March 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Before I continue with the substance of the article, I'd just like to ask everyone to take a second and imagine a Jersey Shore version of LeBron. You know, with the blowout hairdo, the tanning bed skin (why a black man would need tanning is beyond me, but imagine it anyway), the roided biceps, engaging in a little pre-game GTL and, above all, fist pumping.

Just a second.

(Fist pumping dance music plays).

Alright, now that's done.

However, as comedic as that image might be, there's something to note in it.

Because, as crazy as it might seem, LeBron James has a genuine chance of signing with the Nets and becoming the King of Guido Central. (Well, until that move to Brooklyn happens).

"You're out of your mind," I hear you saying. "The Nets are a basket case. They've only just managed to avoid being the worst team this year. Their coach and management are a joke. They make your Warriors look like a well-run organisation."

And, of course, "LeBron is going to be a Knick. He loves Madison Square Garden. The Knicks can offer him the most money. Nike will give him more money for living in a big city." And that's all assuming he leaves Cleveland in the first place.

I know all those things, but hear me out as I explain why, if LeBron leaves the Cavaliers at the end of this year, it will be for the backwaters of Newark.

Supporting Cast.

OK, we all know the Nets have been terrible this year. I'm not going to force Nets fans to relive the horror.

But, that being said, they have some good young pieces who will only get better.

Brook Lopez has the potential to become a 20/10 guy and an All-Star once he refines his game a bit. Devin Harris is an exciting young point guard among many currently in the league. Wing players like Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, and Chris Douglas-Roberts will only get better from this learning experience.

Even this current Nets side would be probably one big piece away from the playoffs. A LeBron-sized piece would have them going deep in the weak East.

And that's not even considering the elephant in the room that is the 2010 Draft. If the Nets get hold of John Wall and they can flip Devin Harris for an experienced wing player or power forward, add LeBron to that and you have a title contender. Even if they can't get Wall, Evan Turner or DeMarcus Cousins would be valuable additions to this team, especially because if there's one guy who can keep Cousins in line, it's LeBron. Plus, the Nets can afford to sign another guy, and there's a good chance they'll go for a power forward in this case—potential sign-and-trade with Devin Harris as the main piece? 

Now let's take a look at the Knicks. The only young talent on that team of note is David Lee and Danilo Gallinari, and there's a fair chance Lee will leave this offseason if the Knicks don't offer him enough (although LeBron joining would probably sway him). Even if Tracy McGrady takes a massive pay cut to stay, the Knicks still need a decent point guard (which Toney Douglas is not). They do have the money to sign someone like Raymond Felton, however, or go for another big name (probably a bigger guy like Bosh or Amar'e).

Either way, let's consider some potential LeBron-less squads.

Nets: Wall/Lee/CDR/Boozer/Lopez. Or Harris/Lee/Turner/Bosh/Lopez. Or even Harris/Lee/CDR/Cousins/Lopez.

Knicks: Felton/McGrady/Gallinari/Lee/Amar'e. Or Duhon/McGrady/Gallinari/Bosh/Lee. 

Either way, I know which group I'd rather go with if I was LeBron.


I'm not going to pass judgement over James Dolan, but either way I doubt he can stack up against what the Nets have going for them.

By now, the Nets' majority ownership belongs to a Russian billionaire named Mikhail Prokhorov. I don't know anything about the guy except that Forbes says his net worth is about $9.5 billion. That's a Swiss bank account with eight more digits than mine. Either way, LeBron will be going to a team owned by a guy who will most likely be willing to provide him a blank check. (Unless Mikhail Prokhorov is Russian for Donald Sterling. And even though I don't know any of the language other than the word vodka, I don't think so.)

Not to mention that the part owner of the Nets is LeBron's mate, Jay-Z. Think about it. If you were LeBron, and you had the chance to go play for a team owned partly by your mate and partly by a guy who will pay for anything, wouldn't you take it?

Coaching and Management

And NOW you must be thinking I've lost it. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is one of the great offensive coaches of our time. The Nets? Well...do they still have a coach? And Donnie Walsh has shown himself to be a shrewd deal-maker, while Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe...let's not go there.

But there's the catch. Everyone in the Nets organization is pretty much off contract next year. It's fair to assume that if LeBron comes to the Nets, the first thing Jay-Z's gonna ask him is, "Who do you want as a coach/GM? Prokhorov will pay for it." And I can guarantee you that anyone in the world who LeBron wants as a coach who can possibly join will do so. Remember Coach K laughing off the suggestion that the Nets might offer him the position? I bet if the chance to coach one LeBron James was part of the deal he'd be singing a different tune.

Now let's look at the Knicks. Everyone knows D'Antoni's skill with teaching offense. He took the Suns to three consecutive division titles and the best regular season record in the first Steve Nash season. Yet he hasn't won a title. Why not? For the same reason that Don Nelson has never won one. You can't win titles playing warp-speed offense and paper-thin D the way every D'Antoni side does, no matter what kind of players you have at your disposal.

Plus, his reputation as an excellent teacher and man-manager has gone down the toilet since he joined the Knicks. The Nate Robinson saga is the best known, but he's also had his issues with Larry Hughes and apparently with Jordan Hill when he was with the Knicks as well. True, those guys aren't what you call easy to coach, but either way a better man-manager should have been able to keep such egos under control. If he can't handle scrubs like Larry Hughes, how will he juggle egotistical superstars like Chris Bosh or Carlos Boozer should they join the Knicks?

Location and History

One of the reasons LeBron is considered most likely to head for New York is the basketball history of the city. He's said many times how much he loves Madison Square Garden and having attended a game there myself, I can see where he's coming from. Plus, while the Knicks may have struggled this decade, they're still one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. The number of greats to wear the orange and blue says it all—Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Patrick Ewing, etc etc etc.

The Nets, on the other hand, have spent most of their time playing in the backwaters of New Jersey. Their only genuine success came with the Jason Kidd era in 2001 and 2002 where they made the Finals twice and got wasted by the Lakers both times. 

On the surface, it looks like this is a first-round knockout to New York. However, there's another element to factor in. As much as LeBron is a basketball history junkie, a player of his calibre would love nothing more than to be the saviour of the franchise and a hero who stands head and shoulders above everyone who ever played for them. When you consider that the only player to have ever played for the Nets to even hold a candle to LeBron was Dr. J, and he only spent two years with them, you can see the potential for the Nets to become LeBron's team, in the manner that the Bulls are still seen as Jordan's team.

Then comes the location factor. The Nets will be playing in Newark next year and possibly in a new Brooklyn arena in a couple of years. Imagine this possibility: LeBron brings the Nets their first NBA championship in the first year they play in the new Barclays Center, which becomes forever known as "The House That LeBron Built." Who wouldn't want that? Any superstar would, but LeBron can make it happen.

Of course, this is far from a foregone conclusion. In fact, I actually do believe that LeBron will probably stay in Cleveland and win a bunch of titles. 

However, in the possibility that it may happen, I'm gonna go practice my fist pumping.


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